Doing Things Once…or Twice…or Forever

I’m a big proponent of letting your children injure themselves.  Wait…that didn’t come out quite right.  What I mean is that when my kids are doing something stupid that could get them hurt, I think sometimes it’s better to let them get hurt and learn a lesson rather then continually telling them to stop doing whatever it is.  This doesn’t apply to things in which mortal injury could befall them–I’m not letting them learn how to cross a street by dropping them in the middle of Speer Boulevard or anything, but for minor infractions it works well.  The central flaw in this amazing parenting technique that I am now sharing with you is that four-year olds have notoriously short memories.

For example, the other night at dinner, the boy was playing around while sitting on his chair and barely sitting on the front corner of it.  I was sick to death of telling him to sit properly, and just waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the boy and the chair go flying in opposite directions.  His plate careened across the table and conveniently landed onto the high chair tray without breaking.  The boy lay prostrate on the hardwood floor, crying.  Eric and I just waited in our chairs for him to get up.

When he finally did, blood was dribbling from his lip and we sort of panicked, scared that he had bitten through his lip.  As it turned out, he hadn’t quite made it that far but it was still a pretty bad cut.


We got him an ice pack and some ibuprofen, and that made things better.  Of course, at that point the only thing he could eat was ice cream, so ice cream for dinner it was.  While eating his ice cream, the boy slid to the corner of the chair and sat in the EXACT SAME POSITION he was when he first fell.  At this point, I now have an injured child who is rewarded for his actions by getting “I-bee-profen” (which he loves) AND ice cream AND is still engaging in the action that all of this was supposed to prevent!  Yet again, the scoreboard reads: Parents 0, Child 1.

Stay tuned for other innovative parenting techniques and my successes with them.

3 thoughts on “Doing Things Once…or Twice…or Forever

  1. Geoff says:

    you’re only giving him 1 point for that? c’mon sujata, atticus scored a three pointer there! easily!

    the only question i have about this story was why ice cream was the only thing he could eat? no cold yogurt? no cold mushed peas? a banana? how about just blending his dinner into a maybe-not-so-yummy drinkable smoothie?

    hope he’s all right today. and tonight he’ll sit the same way again.


    • sajbat says:

      geoff, because when your kid is crying and there is blood trickling from his lip and he says he wants ice cream, you don’t counter with “How about some cold mushed peas instead?” You just get him a bowl of ice cream. And, yes, he continues to sit in this foolhardy way.


  2. geoff says:

    ah i see. it was originally worded as if his mouth would react badly to anything else. at least he knows how to milk an injury. when i got my appendectomy, i told karen i really needed a new bike, but she didn’t buy it. i did, however, get ice cream.



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